St. Thomas race hinges on Friday count

November 06, 2003|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Those interested in the winner of Tuesday's St. Thomas Board of Supervisors race will have to await the official count by the Franklin County Board of Elections that begins Friday.

"It is a referendum on the quarry. There clearly was one issue," write-in candidate Frank Stearn said of a proposed quarry west of the village of St. Thomas that angered some residents enough to form a group to oppose the project. Stearn, who announced his candidacy a month before the general election, is a member of the group, Friends and Residents of St. Thomas.

With all precincts reporting, incumbent David C. Ramer had 565 votes, or 47.56 percent. Write-in votes totaled 567, or 47.73 percent, according to complete, but unofficial results. More than 4 percent of voters chose not to vote in that race.


The total for write-in votes does not indicate for whom voters cast ballots, only how many were cast, according to election officials.

Jean Byers, the county's deputy chief clerk, however, said those totals do not reflect 58 ballots in the St. Thomas 2 precinct rejected by the optical readers used to tally the votes. Each will have to be examined by the election board, she said.

"It's so close, that amount can make the difference," Ramer said Wednesday. He said he was disappointed the election was so close.

How the votes on those 58 ballots split between Stearn and Ramer in the official count may determine who is the winner of the six-year term.

In some cases, Byers said, it appeared ballots were rejected because write-in stickers were applied incorrectly to the ballots by voters.

Stearn, 58, of 3870 Ricklyn Drive, said his count of write-ins posted at the township's three polling places gave him 592 votes under various spellings of his name. He said he will petition the board of elections to have those accumulated once the official count is complete.

Byers said candidates have five days from the completion of the count to file for accumulation of write-ins, or to petition the county court for a recount.

Quincy Township

In the county's other big race involving a write-in candidate, Quincy Township Supervisor Kerry Bumbaugh lost his bid for a third term to Wilbur "Wib" Sanders.

Sanders, 57, of 5741 Manheim Road, had beaten Bumbaugh, 39, of 7888 Anthony Highway in both the Republican and Democratic primaries in May. The race was left in doubt well into Wednesday morning as the ballot box from Quincy 1, the township's largest precinct did not arrive at the courthouse until about 2:15 a.m., Byers said.

The final result was Sanders with 675 votes, or 54.5 percent, to 524 write-ins, or 42.33 percent.

"I served the community 12 years and I don't regret it," Bumbaugh said Wednesday. "I'll miss it. It's become part of my life."

"Kerry did a good effort, but the people have spoken," Sanders said. Working with the other board members to do long-range planning and resolve some outstanding issues on the new sewer system are his top priorities, said Sanders.

Voter turnout countywide was about 28 percent. In Quincy Township, where voters were also choosing a new district justice, turnout topped 46 percent. About 39 percent of the registered voters in St. Thomas Township voted.

In that race for the new District 7 district justice position, Republican Kelly L. Rock of Mont Alto, Pa., defeated Democrat Douglas J. Furness, 2,760 to 1,700. The district covers Quincy and Guilford Townships and Mont Alto.

The final count was not exactly final Wednesday. The first precinct in Chambersburg's Ward 3 was not counted at all. Byers said that was because most of the voter stubs had not been removed by election officials at the polls, something usually done before the ballot is handed to the voter.

Byers said the election board and county attorney will decide whether the ballots will be counted. There are 529 registered voters in the precinct, according to voter registration figures.

Elaine M. Swartz is running unopposed for a borough council seat in Ward 3.

In Judge Douglas W. Herman's retention election, 73 percent of voters supported keeping him on the bench, 11 percent voted no and 16 percent left that part of the ballot blank. Herman is a judge of the 39th District of Court of Common Pleas, which serves Franklin and Fulton counties.

The Herald-Mail Articles